Hallmark Stars Gather to Watch Groundbreaking Film Together: ‘Chosen Family’

Jonathan Bennett

Hallmark Jonathan Bennett in "The Holiday Sitter"

Some of Hallmark Channel‘s biggest stars gathered on Sunday night to cheer on their friend and colleague Jonathan Bennett during the live premiere of his groundbreaking movie, “The Holiday Sitter,” which he starred in and executive produced. As Hallmark Channel’s first-ever film with two male leads who fall in love, played by Bennett and George Krissa, the movie is among multiple recent milestones for the network as it intentionally expands its offerings to reflect a more culturally and racially diverse spectrum of families and love stories.

Throughout the network premiere on December 11, 2022, Bennett and a roomful of much-beloved Hallmark actors shared the monumental night together, while posting updates on social media.

Jonathan Bennett Watched Movie Premiere With His ‘Chosen Family’

After a busy weekend of appearances at Christmas Con in New Jersey, many of Bennett’s fellow Hallmark actors came together to watch the live premiere of “The Holiday Sitter.” The next morning, he shared a video via his Instagram Stories in which he panned across the room to show his famous friends, casually gathered in a hotel party room to watch the movie on multiple screens.

“This is what CHOSEN FAMILY looks like,” Bennett wrote. “@hallmarkchannel actors are part of my chosen family, they turned up and turned out to support The Holiday Sitter and I couldn’t be more grateful. This is family.”

He tagged all the Hallmark Channel friends shown in the video, including Nikki DeLoach, Jessica Lowndes, Andrew Walker, Tyler Hynes, Paul Campbell, Benjamin Ayres, Taylor Cole, Brennan Elliott, and Will Kemp, who tweeted a photo from the casual get-together but later realized he’d called the film “The Babysitter” in his original post.

He clarified with another tweet, “I realize that after a three day convention and a martini that I got the hashtag wrong…course I mean #TheHolidaySitter !!” and added laughing and confused emojis. 

In a touching second video Bennett posted to his Instagram Stories, he showed all of his colleagues giving him and the film a standing ovation.

“This. Is. Family,” he wrote over the video. “Supports. Loves. Cares. Encourages. And is there for you no matter what.”

Actress Danica McKellar Cheered On Jonathan Bennett With Other Celebs

Other behind-the-scenes videos posted to social media showed that additional stars in the room included Autumn Reeser, Brant Daugherty, and Danica McKellar, whose move from Hallmark to Great American Family has made headlines because of controversy over her new network’s lack of LGBTQ+ representation.

In light of comments made by fellow GAF actor Candace Cameron Bure about her network choosing to focus on making movies centered around “traditional marriage,” McKellar recently issued a statement about the importance of inclusion and representation for all, in which she shared how much she loved attending the wedding of Bennett and his now-husband, James Vaughan.

She made sure to show up for “The Holiday Sitter” premiere party with Bennett, happy to reunite with her former Hallmark colleagues. She tweeted about her excitement over her friend’s film, saying he’d been “working on this for over 2 years!”

Lacey Chabert was not seen at the laid-back premiere party, but had spent the weekend with Bennett and her Hallmark pals. She told Christmas Con attendees on Friday that she was still jetlagged after flying home to her family in Los Angeles after her “Wedding Veil” film shoot in Greece, only to leave again a couple of days later to fly cross-country for the fan convention.

In her Instagram Stories on Sunday, she posted a photo of herself with Bennett, whom she co-starred with in the 2004 hit movie “Mean Girls.”

She wrote, “It was so much fun to spend the weekend with you at Christmas Con. I can’t believe we’ve been friends for 20 years! I love you @jonathanbennett and I’m excited to watch your movie tonight on @hallmarkchannel.”

The morning after the premiere, Bennett posted an Instagram photo of himself and Krissa shirtless but with streaks of glitter paint beneath their eyes, and asked fans what they thought of the film.

McKellar responded, “So good!!! But I don’t remember the glitter paint scene??” and added a laughing emoji, to which Bennett jokingly commented, “it’s in the sequel.”

Though many fans were already asking for a sequel on social media within minutes of the movie’s end, no official plans have been announced by Hallmark. Executives are likely eagerly awaiting ratings data to see how many people tuned in for the milestone movie, but they’ve made it clear they intend to continue expanding the network’s offerings.

Ahead of the “Holiday Sitter” premiere, Hallmark Media programming head Lisa Hamilton Daly told USA Today, “It’s important because we really do want to show everybody gets their love story. It’s not just straight couples. It’s not just white couples, it’s everyone gets their love story.”